In 1945, George Orwell’s Animal Farm ruffled more than a few feathers with its barnyard political allegory. Meant to occur in the era before World War II when Stalinism was on the rise, the book told a mutinous tale of anthropomorphic, overworked animals rebelling against their bosses and taking over their farm. If you were ever in a middle school Social Studies class, you likely read (or pretended to have read) this widely respected tome.
There have been two attempts at adapting Animal Farm for the small/big screen – 1954’s UK animated film and 1999’s Hallmark’s fairly creepy looking live-action version featuring effects from Jim Henson’s Creatures Shop. Of the two, only the first seemed to fully embrace the message Orwell was trying to convey with the book.
That brief history lesson brings us to this weekend’s announcement that Andy Serkis will direct a feature film adaptation of Orwell’s story for his and Jonathan Cavendish’s performance capture studio, The Imaginarium. “I think we found a rather fresh way of looking at it,” Serkis revealed to The Hollywood Reporter. “It is definitely using performance capture, but we are using an amalgamation of filming styles to create the environments.”
Now that I’ve dispensed the good news, here’s the bad: “We’re keeping it fable-istic and [aimed at] a family audience,” Serkis also told THR. “We are not going to handle the politics in a heavy-handed fashion.”
Is an Animal Farm stripped of its biting political satire still Animal Farm? By removing the unique element of the story, you essentially have another heartwarming talking animal film. The world has enough of those, don’t you think?